History – New Zealand and Global

The Round Table in the Great HallLouis Marchesi, a young Rotarian in Norwich, saw a need for a young men’s organisation similar to Rotary which at the time had limited spaces for membership – which was common in other places as well.

Others in Norwich had also seen the need, so on March 14th 1927 a small group of young men met together under the leadership of Marchesi and formed the first Round Table. Rotary was interested in Round Table so Marchesi was invited to speak at the Harrogate Conference of R.T.B.I. in May 1927.

Rotary helped the movement extend throughout Great Britain, Ireland, Europe, South Africa, India and elsewhere until today where there are Tables in over 20 Countries worldwide. By March 1970, there were 1,700 active Round Tables in the world with a membership of over 46,000.

The movement was honoured in Bournemouth in 1958 by the announcement that His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG., K.T, had consented to become the Patron of Round Table British Isles. Round Table was introduced to New Zealand in 1953 by Bruce Carey of Christchurch, who had previously been a member of the Bradford Round Table in England. Round Table New Zealand spread slowly at first until 1961 when the first National Convention was held in Christchurch over Queen’s Birthday Weekend with representatives of seven Tables attending. At this Convention a permanent National Association was set up and it was also resolved to affiliate to the newly formed World Council of Young Men’s Service Clubs.

Common misconceptions of non- members are usually based around us being a business think tank. Formerly called New Zealand Business Roundtable, this organisation is now the New Zealand Initiative and is not linked in any way to us.

Darts! We are not a darts team, our logo the Rondel is based on an image that hangs in the Great Hall at Winchester (above). It’s a medieval reproduction of King Arthur’s Round Table, however, the medieval ancestry is nothing to do with us, sorry.

In actual fact, our name comes from a speech that the then, Prince of Wales made in 1927 to the British Industries Fair: “The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, improve them”.

This speech inspired the name, and also provided our motto: adopt, adapt and improve – principles that remain at the heart of the organisation.